8 Tishrei 5781 / Saturday, September 26, 2020 | Torah Reading: Ha'azinu
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The Greatest Blessing    

The Greatest Blessing

When I got to Israel, my life was the stock market. I had enough to invest, and the returns were enough to provide for my family; then I took the big hit...


For two years it felt like my world was imploding. As things got worse, I screamed out to Hashem for salvation. Only throughout the toughest moments did I realize He was rescuing me all along.

When Hashem commanded Abraham to move to Israel, he told him, “Lech Lecha – go unto yourself.” A Jew isn’t merely remade into a new being when he returns home. He transforms into the person he was originally created to be. It’s not an easy process. The Land of Israel is won with toil. Even if we are becoming ourselves, it is still a metamorphosis which requires great effort.
When I got to Israel, my life was the stock market. I had enough to invest, and the returns were enough to provide for my family. It was a relatively simple, and stress free life. There were challenges, as there always are when you move to a new country, but the pressure of a livelihood was not among them. For Microsoft to close two points higher, I didn’t have to do a thing.
Then I took the big hit.
It wasn’t a fatal one, but it was hard enough to knock me out of stocks for good. With no aptitude for Hebrew, I was now in Israel and had to find work. My expenses were far greater than the average salary. If I didn’t find a way to provide for my family, a situation could, G-d forbid, arise that would be scarier than my worst nightmare.
I became sick at the thought. This level of pressure was something I never felt before. The moment-to-moment dread that we could go broke, or worse, felt like a vice around my neck at all times.
I prayed to Hashem with more focus than I ever prayed before. My conversations with our Father took on a length and seriousness unprecedented in my life.
Things didn’t get better.
I sent out resumes. I went to employment consultants. I spoke to career counselors at AACI (Association for Americans and Canadians in Israel) and Nefesh B’ Nefesh. They all said the same thing: Don’t worry. Be creative and develop new skills to compliment the ones you already have. Hundreds of thousands of former Americans do just fine here. Have faith.
When I cried out to Rabbi Brody, he reassured me with the same advice. Trust in Hashem – He will give you what you need. Everything is going to be fine.
My wife and I began to tighten our belts. We went out once every other week and ate baked pita sandwiches cooked from home. We spent the first part of our date shopping at the Shuk (outdoor “Farmer’s Market”) in Jerusalem, and went for a nice walk to pray in the Old City. We have never had more fun with each other. For vacations we take the kids camping. Instead of hotel rooms, we pitch a tent. We have been to Elat, Ashdod, and The Dead Sea.
There is something majestic about waking up in the fresh air. It is a completely awe-inspiring sight to open up the front flap of your tent and be greeted by a landscape which overpowers your senses.
I learned web design. I like it a lot. It’s very empowering to talk about an idea on Sunday, and program it into reality by Monday. G-d Willing, this new job will enable me to generate livelihood without having to worry about the Dow Jones Average.
Nobody says to G-d, “Take my money. Take my sense of peace. Make my life unbearably difficult.”
But it was exactly what I needed. To advance in life, I had to develop a fierce determination to do everything I can to provide for my family by making the absolute most of every moment. For the first time in my life I feel like I am functioning at the potential Hashem gave me to produce in His world.
I asked Hashem to take care of my family. I had no idea what to ask G-d for in order to make this happen. G-d provided me with needs I never knew I had. Throughout all this, I worried. I questioned. I even fell more than once. I got angry. I asked myself time and again if Hashem was really looking over me, if He was “ever” going to help me.
All that time, He was not only helping me, He was taking care of me on the deepest of levels. He was providing for me in such a focused way, I didn’t even see it. I thought He wasn’t doing anything. Still, He kept giving.
If Hashem provides those needs in life that are more vital than anything we can be aware of, we never need to question for a hairsbreadth of an instant whether He will provide for the basic needs we all can see.
* * *
Dovber Halevi is the author of Sex, Religion, and the Middle East, a book about personal holiness and happiness. He lives in Israel with his wife and three children.


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